We join colleges and universities across the country in conducting campus climate surveys to help us all better understand students’ experiences, viewpoints and knowledge of campus resources and policies regarding sexual misconduct. In April 2016, a campus-wide survey was launched to help illuminate the scope and nature of this issue at Bentley University. The results of this provide necessary information and perspective we need in guiding our ongoing efforts to develop appropriate programs and resources in this area.
The University utilized an instrument created by the Education Advisory Board (EAB) and distributed the survey electronically to all undergraduate and graduate students; 17% completed it in its entirety. Bentley was one of 34 colleges and universities to use this instrument, allowing us to compare the survey results from Bentley with those from other institutions across the country that used the same survey. (Please note that other schools have used a variety of survey instruments, so direct comparisons of results are not possible.)
The survey was voluntary and, since the topic is sensitive, we can assume there was some self-selection which can impact the results. This should be taken into consideration when determining how prevalent unwanted sexual behavior is on our campus.
You can download and view an executive summary (excel doc) of the survey findings here.
While we recommend that members of our community review the full report of survey findings, here is some brief information from the results:
Though second year students had the highest rate of representation, we were pleased to find a strong response rate from all years of undergraduate students.
Women were slightly over-represented in this survey, comprising 55% of respondents.
9% of Bentley respondents reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact during the 2015-2016 academic year, which is slightly higher than the aggregate results of 8%.
Bentley students responded that the top group they would seek help from is our University Counseling Center. The very next group is their friends and classmates. For those who are interested in seeking support from the Counseling Center, they can be reached at 781.891.2274. For students who want to support a friend or peer, information and resources can be accessed here.
While we are encouraged that Bentley students understand our policies and procedures at a higher rate than the aggregate group, we can do better. A goal of the Office of Gender Equity is to increase the number of students who understand our reporting procedures.
Respondents who Utilized Formal Reporting Procedures
4% of survey respondents who experienced unwanted sexual contact formally reported their experience to the University. Students can file a formal report to the University’s Title IX staff or with the University Police.
Where we go from here:
These data represent the second year of survey results in what has become an annual effort. These results are being published as part of a commitment to transparency; we feel it is imperative to making real change in policies, attitudes, and safety.
Prior to conducting the first survey in April 2015, our efforts in this area included:
- Establishing a Coalition for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence
- Hosting seven annual Consent Days (where students come together to promote healthy communication, respect, and an understanding of consent between romantic partners)
- Being an early adopter of Bystander Intervention training (bystander trainings increase students’ motivation and confidence to respond to behaviors that threaten a peer's health, safety, or well-being)
- Developing a more comprehensive Title IX and Gender-Based Discrimination Policy
- Creating the Office of Gender Equity, and hiring Alex Hirs as Assistant Director of Gender Equity
- Opening a new space in our Student Center - the Equity Center - to foster an inclusive campus environment
- We developed a three-year strategic plan grounded in the findings from this survey (please review the executive summary of the plan here).
Moving forward, the Office of Gender Equity and Development has created a number of programs and plans:
- The climate survey data made clear that most incidents of sexual misconduct are perpetrated by fellow students. With this knowledge, we recruited and trained a new team of student leaders, known as the Equity Center Educators (ECEs). The ECEs supplement existing educational initiatives and facilitate workshops and dialogues across campus to help in prevention.
- In order to increase students’ awareness and understanding of formal reporting procedures, we distributed new marketing materials across campus. Specifically, we updated sexual harassment posters in bathrooms across campus, distributed Title IX information sheets for students, faculty, and staff, and created resource guides for survivors of sexual and relationship violence. In addition to these marketing materials, we launched a web page for the Equity Center. This site centralizes information for students who are looking to learn more about gender and sexuality on campus, and it outlines the leadership groups and programs at Bentley that address these social identities.We continue to develop new print and web materials every year to provide accessible resources to all members of the community.
- We continue to partner with external experts in the fields of sexual and relationship violence prevention, including the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), the One Love Foundation, and the Legal Advocates and Defenders for the LGBTQ Community (GLAD). The staff members from these organizations assist with training Bentley staff, reviewing our University's policies and procedures, and providing guidance on promising practices.
- Our efforts to end sexual misconduct and gender-based violence require engagement from all members of the Bentley community. In order to instill greater commitment from students, faculty, and staff, we are developing new campus-wide programs. These initiatives include guest speakers, documentary screenings, and awareness campaigns. If you are interested in getting involved further, please contact the staff in the Office of Gender Equity at GA_EquityCenter@bentley.edu to learn more about the various opportunities available for our community.